By Kat Farber, LMT, BCMT
It was once thought that massage therapy was contraindicated for people with cancer, across the board. Until recent years, massage students were taught it was one of the big “no-no's” in massage, without exception; and many doctors avoided the treatment because they didn't have a full understanding of how it could interact. But increased research over the last 20 years is showing that in most cases massage therapy is not only safe for cancer care, it's actually very beneficial. The concern once was that massage therapy may spread cancer cells based on its involvement with the circulatory system, but these concerns are unfounded. With advancements in our understanding, we now know there are more factors necessary for metastasis to occur, none of which are related to massage therapy.
Massage as Part of Cancer Care
Massage is often used now as a complement to cancer treatments to assist with many of the symptoms and side effects, contributing to improved quality of life. We now know massage therapy can benefit cancer patients in many ways, including:
One of the most important effects massage therapy can have for a cancer patient and many other people with serious chronic illness is a sense of control over their own lives that many people loose after the numerous doctor visits and treatment appointments. It requires a great quality of emotional and mental strength to live not only with the disease, but with all the physical, mental, and social effects of living with cancer.
Massaging Your Loved One at Home
If you are considering providing your loved one living with cancer massage care at home, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
If you have any questions, feel free to seek advice from a professional. Many would be happy to show you a demo session of easy and safe techniques to use at home. You can find professionally trained oncology massage therapists through the Society for Oncology Massage website.
Don't Forget About Self-Care
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you, as a caregiver, to seek out your own care. In these situations, it is sometimes impossible for your loved one to provide you with normal support. It is rewarding and wonderful to be that caregiver for your loved one, but it does not mean you should go without care yourself. It’s important to give yourself permission to seek it out. Seek out massage, exercise, therapy, or other self-care wellness services and make the time.
About the Author: Kat Farber, LMT, BCMT
Kat Farber, LMT, BCMT has a clinical massage private practice in Memphis, TN focusing oncology massage, auto-immune disorders, and pain management. Please feel free to contact her with any questions. Her website is www.SailleHealingPath.com.
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